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United States

GE and MHI held licensing talks three years before patents fight

US: In the latest twist to the ongoing Mitsubishi (MHI)and General Electric (GE) patent dispute, it has been revealed the two companies discussed the licensing of GE wind technology as long ago as March 7, 2007.

The controversial MHI 2.4MW turbine
The controversial MHI 2.4MW turbine

The two discussed patents including some of those at the core of the high-profile fight between the two companies. However, MHI says that it became apparent, during the meetings, that none of its technology was derived from GE.

Almost a full year later GE filed its first suit against MHI for alleged infringement of GE’s intellectual property in the Japanese company’s flagship 2.4 MW turbine.

So far, the US courts have sided with MHI on three of the five GE patents so far in dispute in three separate court cases.

Separately it has also emerged that Mitsubishi Power Systems America (MPSA), a wholly owned subsidiary of MHI, lost nearly a total of $1 billion because of the dispute with Babcock & Brown (B&B), the failed Australian operator that had ordered 456 2.4MW MHI turbines worth more than $1.4 billion.

B&B stopped making payments on the two contracts in May 2008. Because it had paid MPSA only $86.7 million, the turbines were never delivered even though MHI had started manufacturing.

The details have come to light in the January 22 opinion of Judge Travis Laster of the Chancery Court in Delaware, where MPSA sued B&B for breach of contract. In counter-allegations, B&B unsuccessfully argued that MPSA should have disclosed performance problems in its 2.4 MW turbine after 118 of the machines were installed at B&B’s Gulf Wind project in Texas.

Judge Lester is, however, allowing B&B to proceed with its counter-claim that MPSA fraudulently "made an intentionally vague and misleading partial disclosure about the power range for the MWT95 turbine [one of its a 2.4 MW models] to conceal the intellectual property issues MPSA faced" from GE. MPSA is disputing the allegation.

The judge agreed to stay the case for four months starting February 22 because of a decision by the ITC that Mitsubishi was not infringing three GE patents. MPSA had sought the stay, arguing that the ITC decision meant the accusation of fraud was invalid.


Read the full story in the April 2010 issue of Windpower Monthly.

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